Osso Buco with Risotto alla Milanese
Osso buco can be found all over northern Italy, usually served with saffron-scented risotto alla milanese. It’s a simple braise in which complexity comes from long cooking, allowing the marrow to partly melt into the sauce (the rest can be eaten with a tiny spoon), and a finishing touch of gremolata. Try this method with beef shanks as well.
Season shanks with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Place onion, carrot, celery and garlic in a food processor and pulse until very finely minced, but not yet puréed.
Heat oven to 350°F. Coat a Dutch oven with olive oil and place over medium-high heat. Sear shanks until deeply browned on both sides. Remove to a plate. Add a little more oil and add minced vegetables. Cook until vegetables red so$ and browned, 5–7 minutes.
Add wine to pot, scraping up browned bits as wine reduces. Add tomatoes, stock, thyme, and shanks. Bring to a boil, then cover (with lid or foil) and place in oven.
Check shanks after two hours; they’re done when the meat easily pulls away with a fork, and the sauce has mostly reduced to a thick coating (add more stock if liquid cooks down too far). Before serving, stir in one tablespoon of gremolata. Divide shanks among 4 plates with risotto, passing additional gremolata at the table. Serves 4.
*To make gremolata, combine 1/4 cup finely minced parsley, 2 grated or minced garlic cloves and the grated zest of one washed lemon.
Place stock in a saucepan over low heat and maintain at a simmer. In a small bowl, crumble the saffron and mix with ½ cup warm stock to release the color. Set aside. In a large sauté pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent but not yet brown, about 3 minutes. Add rice and cook another minute. Add wine and stir until pan is almost dry.
Add about a cup of stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally until stock is almost absorbed. Continue to add stock, about ½ cup at a time, adding more as the previous amount absorbs. As you near the end of the stock, add the bowl with the saffron. The goal is tender rice that isn’t too stiff—it should !ow as you tilt the pan—which might take a little more or less stock. After the last addition of stock, when rice is done but still very loose, stir in the remaining butter and cheese until cheese melts. Serve immediately (risotto will thicken as it sits on the plate). Serves 4 as a side dish.
Barolo and Barbaresco are popular pairings for osso buco (with good reason), but try the Nebbiolo-based wines of Valtellina, in northern Lombardy. The Valtellina Superiore DOCG boasts wines with the complexity of Piedmont, but higher altitude and rocky soils result in lighter bodied wines with surprising freshness and minerality.
This article originally appeared in the August/September 2022 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine. Click here to subscribe today!